What Pete Buttigieg Wants to Do about Student Loans

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Kristen Kuchar

By Kristen Kuchar

February 7, 2020

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg could make history as the first president elected with student loan debt. The South Bend, Indiana mayor and his husband Chasten have a combined total of $130,000 in student loan debt. Buttigieg does not propose student loan debt cancellation like some of his opponents, but he does offer solutions to easing the student loan crisis.

Buttigieg has said he accumulated little debt while attending college thanks to scholarships. His husband Chasten, however, borrowed student loans while pursuing a master’s degree and teacher training to become a middle school teacher. Currently the couple has 20 outstanding loans, 15 of which are enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, according to the Indy Star.


 How Buttigieg Wants to Deal with Student Loans

Unlike Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg does not believe student loans should be forgiven. However, he does hope to improve upon the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan and increase the cap for teacher student loan forgiveness. He will invest $100 million on expanding the jobs that qualify for PSLF.

The mayor would like to automatically enroll struggling borrowers into income-driven repayment plans. Loans will then be cancelled, tax-free, after 20 years.

Buttigieg proposes to reduce student loan interest rates for those willing to refinance student loans. Lowering the interest rate on student loans would save borrowers money and potentially make payments more manageable. (Refinancing any federal student loans means a loss in many benefits – income-driven repayment plans, any federal forgiveness programs, generous deferment options, and more.

Students who attended “unaffordable for-profit programs,” as his website says, will have their student loan debt cancelled. 

Buttigieg wants to end wage garnishment and other collections from low-income borrowers who have defaulted on their student loans.

 How Buttigieg Wants to Deal with College Costs

To help reduce future issues with student loan debt, Buttigieg believes college should cost less and that lower-income families (earning up to $100,000) should have the opportunity to attend public college without student loans. He would do this by creating partnerships between federal and state governments to assist with college costs. 

Buttigieg plans to invest $50 billion in historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and minority-serving institutions.

The mayor would also like in increase the Federal Pell Grant by adding $120 billion to the Pell Grant Program over ten years. He would increase the maximum size of the Pell Grant by $1,000. “The federal Pell Grant used to cover nearly 80 percent of the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board; today, it covers just 29 percent,” the Buttigieg website says.

If you are struggling with student loan debt, there are ways you can lower your student loan payments, including enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan, temporarily going on a deferment or refinancing student loans to lower your interest rate. 

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